Breaking News: The Muppets are funny

Published: August 3, 2007
Categories: Reviews

Hey, remember when the Muppets used to make funny things? Cast your mind back. I have fond memories of those days, and I’ve been missing them terribly.

So here’s an example. Gonzo and Rizzo are asked by an interviewer, “What is friendship?” And Gonzo says, “Well, if you look at, you know, from his point of view — or, actually, cause you’re asking from my point of view… Okay, well, from my point of view, I look at it, see, what I do is I look it through his point of view.”

He goes on. “And when I’m looking through Rizzo’s eyes at me, feeling things about him, to describe our friendship… then, what I’ll do is, I’ll get some therapy, and, uh…”

“Wait a second, wait a second,” Rizzo interrupts.

Gonzo says, “Wait, what was the question?”

“This is a very complicated answer,” Rizzo shrugs.

Gonzo explains that he’s been in therapy for fifteen years. The interviewer asks, “Ever thought of changing your therapist?”

“I don’t have a therapist,” Gonzo says. “I do it myself.”

“Self-therapy,” Rizzo adds.

“Yeah,” Gonzo nods. “It’s cheaper that way.”

And there you go, it’s as easy as that. Point a camera at a couple of Muppets, and that’s what they do; they act funny. Now that you think of it, it’s amazing that they haven’t tried it before.

This exchange, by the way — I should explain where this exchange comes from — it’s from the new Muppet Show: Season Two DVD set, which is coming out next week. There’s a bonus feature called “The Muppets on Muppets”, which is twelve minutes of this kind of stuff.

Miss Piggy claims that she has a vacation house in Maine where she hosts elaborate parties. Fozzie asks Kermit why he gets so upset when he talks about Piggy. Pepe says that he has three secrets for success, which he calls Pepe’s three secrets for success, okay, and he can’t tell you the first one, because it’s a secret. Animal, straining at the end of his chain, admits that he likes bunny rabbits.

It’s just good stuff, good ol’ fashioned Muppets being amusing type stuff. It feels like it’s improvised — but it might just be the kind of writing and performing that makes you think it’s improvised. The performers slip right into these characters with a natural, easy charm, as if it hasn’t been two years since their last movie.

Oh, and there’s also some Muppet Show episodes on this set, a whole season’s worth, and it’s a great season, too. John Cleese is forced to sing “To Dream the Impossible Dream”, Rudolf Nureyev performs “Swine Lake” with a giant pig ballerina, Miss Piggy hires Scooter to bribe the audience, Bernadette Peters sings “Just One Person” to cheer up Robin the Frog.

They’re comfortable enough with the show at this point to start playing with the format, so they hold auditions for new acts in the Steve Martin episode, and the pigs take over the show in the Cloris Leachman episode. “Pigs in Space” is introduced, Beaker joins Bunsen Honeydew in the Muppet Labs skits, and the whole show just comes together in surprising and remarkable new ways. If you haven’t seen these episodes in a long time — this is where your fond memories of the show begin.

The episodes are uncut, which is unbelievably great, and they look gorgeous and clear. And The Muppet Valentine Show is on it, and the Weezer video. I even like the packaging; they didn’t use the tired old ugly poser photos that have been ruining my day since 1999. I honestly can’t say a bad thing about this set, and anybody who can is just being persnickety for the sake of it.

Remember when the Muppets were funny? They’re being funny right now on my TV — old funny stuff and new funny stuff, just like we’ve been waiting for. I love it. Make more of everything.

Click here to talk about the new DVD set on the Tough Pigs forum!

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Written by Danny Horn

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